Future Proof Your AV Requirements
An AV system can very quickly become impractical to use or in the worst-case scenario obsolete when forethought and careful attention to technical details have been disregarded during the planning and purchasing phase. In order to plan accordingly it is helpful to have some of the answers to the most common questions asked when faced with the task of upgrading or replacing a new system.
Herein is some practical advice, based on our experience, that can ensure the right features/devices are selected to provide a more useful lifecycle for the system installed.
Typically, what are the most common reasons for an AV upgrade?
The need to upgrade or refresh an AV system is determined based on multiple considerations.
Malfunctioning and non-supported devices are a factor. At some point equipment fails and/or is no longer supported by the manufacturer. If these occur prior to a planned refresh cycle you may have to choose to upgrade the entire system based on the fact that a replacement is not available and/or a manufacturer no longer supports the device.
A complete replacement of a system might occur when a client needs change. As technology develops and changes seemingly almost weekly, there may be features that a client is now petitioning for where a certain device is required but is incompatible with the existing install. Streaming meetings, disability compliance, the need to add participants, are all common client demands. In some cases the older system cannot support this request and as a result the client might determine that a system refresh is in their best interest.
In some instances, there is a change in political affiliation within a government entity which might require a change in the way a system functions. Often in government there are protocols in how meetings/councils must be conducted. If these protocols change, a review of the system installed is necessary. In the private sector there may be a new hire who determines that a system does not meet their needs. In each of these cases an upgrade may not be enough to create the feature set desired,forcing a replacement of the system.
For the AV Integrator upgrades are an obvious profit opportunity. This includes a client’s desire for a “greener” working space. Remote monitoring, system on/off timings, room occupancy detection are all possible system upgrades that an integrator can offer a client to meet some ecological goal or perhaps even LEED certification.
What are the key considerations?
Long Term Objectives
Identify long-term objectives to plan for and reduce future expenditures. For example, purchasing a discussion system without voting functionality only to realize that requirement is needed 6 months or more after project completion. This oversight results in additional costs beyond the system install and perhaps could have been determined during the needs assessment phase with the client.
Consideration should also be given to remote monitoring, metrics acquisition, database integration and camera control functionality, these are often requirements in modern AV systems.
Future growth, as part of the needs assessment, is an important topic to discusswith the client. Will the seating arrangements change in the space, is it possible that you need to add participants (microphones), are potential new technologies on the horizon that are of interest to the client. A view toward possible additions to the system during the design phase could go a long way in accommodating upgrades and additions later in the lifecycle of the system
Unrealistic expectations during the funding phase of a project can hinder the ability to upgrade systems later. Pricing shortcuts during system inception may thwart the ability to add or change features/devices down the road.
What are the next steps once the decision has been made to upgrade or purchase a new system?
Identify the key requirements listed above and start a dialog with manufacturers. They’ll be able to offer valuable advice on how to achieve the desired feature set and might have suggestions on meeting the budget with an eye toward future upgrades. For those using an AV consultant they can guide a client to a sensible course of action when it comes to product selection and potential changes to the system in the future.
Discussions with end users on how they use their systems is beneficial in the long term. This is often a combination of investigation and education to determine how they currently use their systems and what new technology might be useful to them. Display types, screen sharing technology, microphone usage, conferencing protocols and other considerations should be discussed thoroughly.
Integrator selection is a major decision. Ideally the integration candidate would be selected based on similar work experience and interviewed to determine how they will approach the project and whom will be part of their team to complete the project. Costs, schedules, potential problems, programming, software/firmware requirements should all be part of this initial discussion. They will be your most important partner not only for the installation of the system but a resource to discuss upgrades and refreshes later in the life of the system. AV technology is constantly changing and often it is the integrator whom can best steer you through technology advancements as they apply to your system.
What’s the best possible outcome of a new system?
A system that performs effectively is flexible, functional, elegant, and improves communication through clear, concise audio and provides years of use for an effective return on investment. Meeting and exceeding the criteria identified at the project planning phase is a formula for client satisfaction. The best outcome, at least for me, is a grateful and happy client.